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Writer Devibharathi who recently won an award appeared in a scene in Ameer’s film, Ram. For many, that one scene has more recall value than his writings whereas Devibharathi himself may have forgotten his cameo in Ram. Film writers enjoy little recognition in our state for their work.

Quite often, few people living in the same neighbourhood as the writer do not give any thought to his living there. But if he were to put in just a cameo appearance in a movie, then he becomes a celebrity. When he bumps into his neighbours, they irritate him or her saying they saw her in a movie.

Writers often cringe at this. For them, writing is everything and they don’t seek acting honours. They don’t get taken up by appearing under the arclights and so their acting performances are often not a patch on professional actors. Yet, some producers like to see their writers on the screen and have them act in movies. And this has been a practice in Tamil movies since the very beginning.

Writers often cringe at this. For them, writing is everything and they don’t seek acting honours

Kothamangalam Subbu is known as the man who wrote Thillana Mohanambal. But, as far back as1934, he had acted in the movie, Pattinathar, produced by K Subramanian. Who can forget popular lyric writer Kavignar Kannadasan singing ‘Oru Koppaiyile en Kudiyiruppu’ in Rathathilagam movie and another popular song Paramasivan Kazhuthilirunthu Paambu Kettathu in Suriyagandhi movie. Kannadasan has also donned the actor role in movies like Karuppu Panam and Aboorva Ragangal. Kannadasan’s daughter Vishali Kannadasan was one among the heroines in K Balachandar’s Vaname Ellai movie.

Like Kannadasan, popular lyricist Vaali has acted in movies like Poikal Kuthirai, Satya, Hey Ram. Poet Vikramathityan acted in Bala’s Naan Kadavul. He has also acted in the movie Insha Allah with his wife. Vikaramathiyan may be the only poet or author to take acting seriously. None of the others did.

None of these authors or poets pursued acting seriously or considered themselves serious actors. Most of them did cameos. From Puthumaipithan, Vinthan to Jayamohan and Ramakrishnan, none acted in films. Popular crime novelists Pattukottai Prabhakar and Rajesh Kumar do work in cinema as film writers but have never appeared on the silver screen.

Directors who have a passion for literature tend to cast their favourite authors in cameo roles in their movies. It probably gives them a kick.

No Tamil writer has ever switched professions. Acting was at best a hobby for them.

Rangarajan, aka Sujatha, acted as himself in the movie Thaipongal. There was one scene in which Radhika would ask him, ‘Aren’t you novelist Sujatha?’

Novelist Balakumaran has acted in some movies like Keladi Kanmani, Ullasam. He directed K Bhagyaraj’s Idhu Namma Aalu. He donned the role of a restaurant cashier in that movie. Balakumaran has written that he walked out of the movie discussion of Munthanai Mudichu. He wanted to become a director under K Balachandar but that never happened.

Acting or directing did not get Balakumaran much name or fame. Writing did, however.

K Vela Ramamoorthy is an exception as he pursues serious acting roles as much as his writing. The role of Veera Thevar played by Ramamoorthy in Vikram Sugumaran’s Mathayanai Kootam identified him as a good actor. Prasad Murugesan’s Kidari was a good break for Ramamoorthy. Poet Vasumitra has also acted in that film.

Sri Lankan poet V I S Jayapalan made a mark for himself in Aadukalam.

Vela Ramamoorthy fits the part of a rustic villager or village head. But time will tell if Ramamoorthy is versatile since that is a requirement to shine as a character actor in Tamil cinema.

Professor of drama and author Mu Ramasamy has played the lead in recent movie K.D alias Karuppu Durai. With his drama background, he is able to act effortlessly but Ramasamy has not acted extensively in cinema.

Sri Lankan poet V I S Jayapalan made a mark for himself in Aadukalam. He played the role of Pettaikaran in the film whose theme is the mentor-mentee relationship. Jayapalan’s acting was on a par with any professional artist. He blew life into the role of a mentor feeling jealous after his mentee upstages him. Radharavi’s voice added punch to the role.

To conclude, leaving aside some exceptions, good authors or film writers are not keen on acting in cinema. And, the ones who are keen on acting don’t shine as good authors

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